The Backbeats: ‘Repeat Listenability’

To kick off 2012, one of the brilliant groups from NBC’s The Sing-Off recently released their debut album after making it to the Top 3 teams of the show’s second season. The jubilant harmonies you heard in season 2 were products of the first time the men and women of the Backbeats had ever made music together – and what glorious music it was. The self-titled debut album features a variety of honest, wholesome, and explosive covers of some of today’s most popular hits. The emotion the group put forth in crafting the album is clearly displayed through the tones and energy emitted in each track. The texture of songs like “Firework” and “Need You Now” demonstrates the group’s devotion to making music they love and making it their own. Staying true but unique to the sounds of Adele, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and more, The Backbeats work to expand the art that is a cappella. With the help Sing-Off judge Sara Bareilles, the Backbeats also tackle “Uncharted,” the latest hit from the a cappella queen, in true a cappella form.

Bringing together all of their unique harmonies, tones, energies, and passion for music, The Backbeats use the camaraderie they developed throughout their season of The Sing-Off to spring forth a collection of unique and one-of-a-kind covers that can only be a promising preview of tunes to come from this colorful bunch.

The Yak recently had the opportunity to pick the brains of members of the Backbeats and we want to share with you the thoughts directly from the artists themselves. The depth behind the answers they provided further demonstrate their passion to make music that not only entertains but also speaks. Also hidden below is a way for YOU to win a FREE copy of this album – one we guarantee you’ll listen to over and over.


What was the group’s inspiration in choosing which songs made the album cut?
KENTON: To be honest, it was an incredibly hard decision. We ran ideas past each other for weeks before recording, and even while we were recording one song, we were wrestling with the next song to pick! On the show, we were best known as the group who rocked the powerhouse ballad – and we wanted to pay homage to that, but we also wanted to showcase all the different styles and voices that really makes The Backbeats what we are. With Turning Tables and Need You Now, I think we really got to the emotional songs, but Born This Way and Cry Me A River really let us have fun!

Funny story about our title track, Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ – our “inspiration” came from seeing one of our friend’s posts on our Facebook News Feed! We all watched the music video together and fell in love with the song. And who knew Hanson was still around, making really good music??

Now that you’ve been off of the Sing-Off for about a year, how has life changed for the Backbeats? Other than making music in the studio, what have been the new challenges to adapt to?
KELLEY: Our biggest challenge as a group is coordinating our busy schedules. While on the Sing-Off, we had time set aside for rehearsing and performing, but now that we are back to our “real” lives, it’s hard to come together sometimes. Some of us work 9-5 jobs and some of us travel for work, and often we don’t know what the future holds.

How much did talk for original music come up in recording this album and can we expect original music in the future?
JORDAN: We thought about it and talked it over but I think for this album we wanted to give our fans a similar taste of what they saw from us on the show with some new songs to switch it up a bit. Original music in the future is definitely a possibility and something I think we would love to also share with our fans, so we will see what the future holds.

What are the Backbeats plans for 2012?
RACHEL: We’re going to continue riding the wave in 2012! There is a lot of excitement circling the release of our album, so we’re busing marketing and promoting it with online campaigns and various appearances. We’re elated with the amount of support we’ve received from our family, friends and fans who’ve purchased the album and our listening to our music. We’re also continuing to gig here and there– we’re traveling to New York and Florida in the month of February!! So 2012 is off to a good start! We’re hoping to make some more great music and memories this year!

We know the Backbeats formed for the Sing-Off last year and we also know that many of the members went back to their respective schools after the show was over. How has it been adapting to being in different parts of the country, especially while recording an album and making plans for 2012?
COURTNEY: It was definitely an adventure for me to be in a different state than most of the group after the show was through. I basically just learned how to pack a suitcase really well! When it came to making the album, we were really good about communicating about mixes and things via the internet, and I was able to record all of my percussion up here in Oregon with Peter Hollens, so it worked out really nicely. Overall, I feel like I get the best of both worlds with this deal, because I get to perform with some of my best friends all around the country, but I still call Oregon home.

How was it recording with Sara Bareilles, a seasoned performer and recording artist?
TODD: As mind-blowingly unreal as you’d think it would be. We had the good fortune of getting to share the stage with Sara in the finale of Season 2 for “King of Anything.” Getting to do it all over with “Uncharted” was a dream come true… for a second time. I remember when the idea came up during album discussions, we all thought there wasn’t a chance it would actually happen, but it was worth a shot to ask. Then it happened. And then Sara was chosen as Nicole’s successor for the open judge’s chair. Then we were invited back for the finale… Soon, it was like old times, which is weird to say. At the stage we’re at, you never really get used to people like Sara, Shawn and Ben being a part of your lives.

For a chance to win a FREE copy of The Backbeats debut self-titled album, tweet your favorite BackBeats performance to @yakkityyaks with #YakWithTheBackBeats. One randomly selected fan will be chosen as our winner!

Amusing anecdote: During choreo rehearsals for our “King of Anything” performance on Season 2, Sara was touring and unavailable to rehearse until the day of the show (!). So in her place sat a chair that we all danced and sang around, acting as if it were her. We called this lucky seat “Chair-a Bareilles.” Needless to say, the real Sara was a much more pleasing upgrade from hotel furniture.

How about the group’s inspiration in choosing which voice to showcase on a particular song?
EITAN : As a group, we have always felt that The Backbeats represents a group of eight lead vocalists – never one soloist with seven back-up singers. Because of that, it was important to us that each member in the group was able to contribute his/her unique vocal style and interpretation as a soloist to at least one track on the album. It’s what keeps the album fresh and gives it “repeat listenability.”

To directly answer the question, song selections for the album went hand in hand with the selection of the soloists. We always chose a song with a soloist in mind.

What has been the moment you feel like you’ll cherish the most since finishing The Sing-Off? Just something you never thought you’d experience at this stage in your life?
KENTON: Probably the greatest moment I remember is the moment we all (the contestants) met each other for the first time in the hotel. Before all the glitz and all the production, we were, at the very basis, musicians and friends. There were 90 or some odd number of us, and our first rehearsal of the opening number was quite hectic – but when it locked! The harmonies, the dynamics, the vocal talent; we knew we were in for something amazing.

I never thought I’d be able to say at this age that I can go almost anywhere across the country and call up someone to stay with or hang out. It’s a great feeling, to have family all across America!

RACHEL: I could honestly answer this question in about a hundred different ways because there have been so many moments that I’ve cherished since finishing our run on The Sing-Off. We have had the incredible opportunity to do some amazing amazing gigs that I will never forget– the NBA All-Star game, gigs in Vegas, Christmas Tree lighting television specials, etc. We’ve also created friendships that will last a lifetime, with each other as a group, and with our friends from the show. And probably the cherry on top is that we’ve been able to make an album of our music with a record label and a major distributor… that’s something that doesn’t just come about every day of someone’s life. We’ve been blessed and lucky to have experienced all of these things this year, it’s really just incredible!

The Backbeats Complete Track Listing:
12. UNCHARTED (Feat. Sara Bareilles)

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